Kevin De Bruyne believes Manchester City winning the Champions League would “change the perspective” in terms of how the club are regarded.
City have won 13 major trophies since 2011, but they have not tasted glory in Europe’s elite club competition.
They were beaten semi-finalists in 2015-16, and after three successive quarter-final exits, last year reached their maiden Champions League final, in which they were defeated 1-0 by Chelsea.
They head into Wednesday’s semi-final second leg at Real Madrid leading the tie 4-3, and De Bruyne told a press conference ahead of the match: “I think it (winning the competition) would change the perspective from outside.
“Obviously as a player you want to win the trophies, and you want to win this one. But I think the fact we’ve been fighting for numerous years and getting to the latter stages means that we’ve been doing really well.
“It’s a cup competition and the quality is very high so it’s very, very difficult to win it, and there’s different circumstances that happen.
“I think in the end if you look back at the way we performed, or I performed over seven years with the team, we did really well. But obviously we didn’t win it, and I think winning it would just change that little narrative.”
The Belgium midfielder added: “I think we are in a very good way. Obviously the fact that we’ve not won it yet, I think that will probably be the only criticism we can get.
“I think for the rest, we’ve been there loads of times, and we’ve been always fighting to win this competition. So the consistency we have as a club has been amazing, I think pretty much as good as anybody else. But we just need to try to get over the line, and tomorrow is another step.”
The 2015-16 semi-final was also against Real, who won the second leg 1-0 at home after a 0-0 first-leg draw and went on to lift the trophy for a second time in three years, with two more triumphs to follow in 2017 and 2018.
De Bruyne, who was in his first season with City at that point, said: “I’m thinking we’re in better shape now.
“I think I remember when we played that game, we didn’t have the greatest of end of seasons, and Madrid was the powerhouse at the time. I know we lost 1-0 in the end with an own-goal but I think it was a pretty boring game if I remember correctly.
“I think we’re in a different shape right now, I think we’re better set up as a team, we play better and I think we have more experience in this stage, so hopefully we’ll be better prepared.”
De Bruyne opened the scoring early on and provided the assist for Gabriel Jesus to double City’s lead soon after in last week’s pulsating first leg.
The 30-year-old, who was subsequently kept on the bench by boss Pep Guardiola for Saturday’s 4-0 Premier League win at Leeds, was asked if he was currently in the best form of his career, and De Bruyne said: “You guys can tell me, I don’t know.
“The first months (of the season) were really hard (when he was injured), I have never experienced the pain that I had back then. I was trying to come back but I was in pain with my ankle every day and it wasn’t something I really enjoyed. I would say mentally it was hard also to overcome that.
“But once the pain was gone after a couple of months I started to feel more confident in myself and my body to get back to where I think I belong, and now playing all these games, and playing week in, week out, I feel back to the level that I was before.
“Is there much difference than before? I don’t know. I just try to be as consistent as I can and I think this year I have managed myself pretty well.”